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NRS Search Strategies : Subject headings

Subject headings and MeSH terms

To help you narrow your topic, you can use subject headings to get even more specific. Subject headings are fixed terms used to indicated an item's subject matter, and also used to index the article (by subject). A single article can have several subject headings, depending on the content. 

MeSH terms (MEdical Subject Headings) are more specific controlled terms used in the medical field. The EBSCO CINAHL database indexes articles both by subject heading and MeSH terms. You can use the CINAHL Advanced Search's "suggest subject terms" tool to locate relevant subject headings AND MeSH terms.

In the example above, a subject terms search will show the following:

Clicking on the term will show its' "tree view." In this example, it is clear that the term "Team building" is part of a larger concept: 

You can use this tree to broaden (or narrow) your keywords, and you can also use this tool to create a focused seach. Click on a checkbox next to the term that you're interested in. The "Explode" checkbox next to the term you  want should be checked if possible (sometimes it is greyed out and not an option), and checking the "Major concept" will narrow your search even further to articles that are primarily about your chosen topic.

To search for articles with this term, click on the "Search database" button on the right-handm side.

If you'd like to combine several subjects in a search, here's how; in the "tree view" view, go back to the term list view by clicking on this button at the top of the page (if you're already in the "Term List" view, stay there):

Click the checkbox next to the item you want to select. Then, go to the bottom of the list and click "Browse Additional Terms." You'll be taken back to the search box, where you can perfom another subject search and then click the checkbox next to that term as well. This will add the two subjects together:


You can continue this process by adding more terms, but it's best to combine 3 or less, as subject searches are very specific. note: under the "Combine selections with:" heading, BE SURE TO SELECT THE "AND" CHECKBOX to combine your terms!

When you're ready, click on "Search Database" and the search will be performed. If you get no results, try again with less subjects, or combine a subject search with keyword(s) in the other search box(es).